With stroke killing nearly 150,000 of the 860,000 Americans who die of cardiovascular disease each year1, it’s important to know your risks, know how to recognize signs, and know what lifestyle changes can prevent a stroke from happening in the first place.
A stroke causes brain tissue to die which can lead to damage, disability or even death. Stroke is the leading cause of death in the United States, and as many as 80% of strokes are preventable.2
What puts you at risk for a stroke?
Anyone can have a stroke at any time. Every year, 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke3. There are several factors you can control to reduce your risk for a stroke. These include reducing alcohol, stop smoking and getting enough exercise.
Some conditions increase your risk for a stroke. These include diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. You can reduce your risk for a stroke by treating these conditions.
What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?
The easiest way to remember the common signs of a stroke is remembering how you need to respond: FAST!
F = Facial drooping. If you ask the person to smile, do both corners of the mouth turn up?
A = Arm weakness. Can the person raise both of their arms?
S = Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a sentence. Are the words slurred? Can they talk?
T= Time to call 911. If a person shows any of the above signs call 911 immediately. Stroke treatment can begin in the ambulance and time is critical for successful treatment of stroke.
Other common signs of a stroke:
- Sudden dizziness or trouble walking
- Sudden trouble seeing
- Severe headache
- Any numbness of the face, arm or leg
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding others
How to prevent a stroke.
High blood pressure is the most important treatable risk factor for stroke, so be sure to check your blood pressure regularly. If it’s elevated, discuss treatment with your physician.
To reduce your risk of stroke:
- Eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be active! Regular exercise reduces your risk
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Don’t smoke
- Prevent or manage other conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity to reduce your risk
What factors put you at higher risk for a stroke?
Age – The older you are, the higher the risk for a stroke.
Sex – Women are more likely to have a stroke and are more likely to die from a stroke.
Genetics – People with a family history of stroke have a higher risk for a stroke.
Race or Ethnicity – Black, Hispanic, and American Indian people are more likely to have a stroke than Whites, Asians, or non-Hispanics. Blacks are more likely to die from stroke than Whites.
A Blue Medicare Advantage Care Manager is Here to Help
Did you know your Blue Medicare Advantage plan includes a Care Management Program? Blue KC’s Care Managers can help you decrease your risk of stroke and help with any of your chronic conditions. Participation is confidential, voluntary, and at no additional cost to you. To learn more about this program, please contact a Care Manager at 816-395-2879 or 1-866-859-3811 (TTY:711), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time.
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999–2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database website. http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html.
(2) Lackland DT, Roccella EJ, Deutsch AF, et al. ; American Heart Association Stroke Council; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research; Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology. Factors influencing the decline in stroke mortality: a statement from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke 2014;45:315–53.
(3) Benjamin EJ, Muntner P, Alonso A, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2019 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2019;139:e1–e473. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000659.